Dems Back Down On Witnesses, Take Deal To Put House GOPer’s Statement Into Evidence

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 17: U.S. Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) at a news conference on September 17, 2020 in Washington, DC. The House passed the HEROS ACT three months ago and, the senate offe... WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 17: U.S. Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) at a news conference on September 17, 2020 in Washington, DC. The House passed the HEROS ACT three months ago and, the senate offered a lesser version, but refused to compromise when Speaker Nancy Pelosi offered to meet halfway. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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February 13, 2021 1:08 p.m.

House managers backed down from their request to depose a House Republican who was told about an angry call that took place mid-insurrection between Donald Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCathy.

Instead, the Friday statement put out by the Republican, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA), laying out what she heard about the call was entered into evidence, per a stipulation offered by Trump’s defense team.

The agreement resolved what could have been a dramatic change to the plans to end the Senate trial Saturday. Five Republicans joined Democrats in voting on Saturday morning for the Senate to be allowed to debate witness requests. If the House managers and the Trump defense team were allowed to call witnesses, it could have stretched out the trial for days or even weeks.

Ultimately, even though the House managers likely had the support of at least a few Republicans in their request to depose Herrera Beutler, Democrats prioritized ending quickly a trial that was fated for a Trump acquittal over doing further fact-finding that would have shed light on Trump’s conduct while the siege of the Capitol was underway

Senate Democrats were reportedly blindsided when Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), the leader of the House impeachment managers’ team, announced at the beginning of Saturday’s proceedings that the managers would like to move forward with a request to depose Herrera Beutler. Her account of the McCarthy-Trump call — in which there was a shouting match over McCarthy’s pleas that Trump call off the rioters — was the focus of a CNN story published Friday evening. CNN confirmed what she and several other Republican lawmakers heard about the call.

Herrera Beutler on Friday night released a statement yet again confirming on the record that she was told about the call, which she had initially shared with a local news outlet in mid-January.

Trump’s lawyers responded to Raskin’s request to depose her with a threat that the defense team would seek 100 witnesses of its own. Attorney Michael van der Veen’s enraged diatribe demanding that the Senate vote down Raskin’s request prompted laughter from senators after he suggested that witnesses would need to be dragged to his Philadelphia office for the depositions, rather than deposed over Zoom, as Raskin proposed.

Five Republicans voted with the Democrats to allow the Senate to take up that and any other witness request (one of those Republicans was Trump loyalist Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who changed his “no” vote to “yes” once it was clear the House managers had the votes to move forward with the request). But without a plan for what would happen next, the proceedings were halted and eventually the Senate went on recess, during which the deal to enter Herrera Beutler’s statement was hashed out.

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